Martin Williamson

Martin Williamson, MPhys 2015, Business Analyst, Sky

Throughout school and my early university career, I had a hard time deciding what I wanted to do when I graduated. With an analytical mind, I was very fond of physics and so pursued an MPhys Physics degree at St Andrews. My five years studying was a fantastic experience. The guidance and support provided by the physics department was exceptional; I felt welcomed from day one, and felt such a strong sense of community upon leaving. The town of St Andrews itself is truly unique; its nickname of ‘The Bubble’ is befitting for a place where the university makes up so much of the town. The societal and sporting communities mean there is always something going on during free time, but equally there are quiet spots to get on with those crucial deadlines. This perfect balance in university life would be difficult to find elsewhere!

With each summer whilst at university, I tried to gain a new experience of work. I firmly believe that each summer taught me something new and directed me towards my current career: performing business analyst and project manager roles within the Change Delivery department at Sky.

I spent the summer of 2013 working as a scientific researcher within the Marine Biology Department at the University of St Andrews. Within this role, I applied my physics background in order to attempt to model the variation in oxygen concentration inside a shoal of fish. I worked with people who were extremely inspired by their work; the determination to discover and reshape the thinking of the scientific community was admirable. Unfortunately, I soon realised that I did not have the same mind set. I enjoyed studying physics, but I was motivated by short, fast-paced deadlines where I could continually see progress of my work.

I then started to look into applying the problem solving and lateral thinking skills I had developed throughout my degree in a more corporate setting. At first, I looked into applying for internships in the banking and financial sectors. However, it soon became apparent that those businesses moved relatively slowly with their projects. I knew I would not be motivated in work, and needed a business that had a little more innovation associated with it.

Martin pictured with members of Malte Gather's research group, where Martin did his final year MPhys project.

I had a friend who was a programme manager within the Change Department at Sky. She spoke about Sky as this exciting, rapid roller-coaster ride where no day and project was the same. I managed to get myself a two-week placement in the department in the summer of 2014 and became truly enamoured of the company’s ethos.

I applied for the graduate programme as soon as I could, and was delighted in successfully capturing a place in the department. In hindsight, I see my education at St Andrews as the largest contributor in making my application to Sky a successful one. The physics department developed my numerical, analytical and problem-solving skills, as one would expect from such a mentally challenging subject. However, the St Andrews curriculum gave me much more: the opportunity to develop softer skills such as communication, teamwork and leadership. Modules often placed you in teams with colleagues to work on projects, where the roles within the team were rotated. Individual and group presentations were also a common theme, an aspect of the curriculum I found extremely engaging! The module that springs to mind most is ‘Transferable Skills for Physicists’ (PH3014) – easily my most recommended module to do at St Andrews.

My graduate programme lasts for two years, under the assumption I take a permanent role with the company upon its completion. I will rotate throughout my time with Sky, working on five different projects which cover the breadth of their business; be it improving billing methods or delivering exciting new products. I will perform a mixture of tasks including: requirements gathering; project timeline mapping; stakeholder interaction and most importantly collaborating with colleagues across different departments to ensure projects are delivered to the high standard Sky associate themselves with.

I would recommend a degree at St Andrews to anyone, especially one in the Physics department! I actually like St Andrews so much that I commute to work from here!! I’ve truly grown up during my time in the town and met some incredible people who have shaped my personality forever. I’ve left the university feeling confident in my ability and, most importantly, prepared for my future career.

First posted BDS 30.9.15